Statement by Senior Adviser Jostein Leiro at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council. Item 3 – Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Delivered at 2 March 2020.
Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Group (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden).
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I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.
We thank the Special Rapporteur for his latest report on the intersections between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality.
His report is alarming in its many examples of gender-based violence and discrimination in the name of religion, sometimes carried out with the explicit or tacit encouragement from State officials. It makes the realization of the rights of both freedom of religion or belief as well as gender equality more difficult to achieve.
Tradition, culture or religion or belief can never be used as an excuse to deny or scale back human rights, and we must take steps to strengthen implementation of our international obligations. We therefore welcome the recommendations contained in the report. The report stresses the importance of reliable State institutions, and notes the interrelatedness of rights such as freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and gender equality.
We need further knowledge, engagement and ideas. In this regard we welcome the many valuable initatives that are being taken to this effect by various actors.
We are ready to continue to work with others to pursue freedom of religion or belief and gender equality as mutually reinforcing and interdependent rights, maintaining core principles of equality and non-discrimination, in order to realize our common objective of “leaving no one behind”.